KP salutes 'father figure' Rice

Rice had been undergoing treatment for a brain tumour prior to his death on Tuesday in a Cape Town Hospital.

He was a lavishly talented all-rounder in his playing days but the sporting boycott of Apartheid-era South Africa meant he was only able to represent his country in three one-day internationals, captaining the Proteas in their first series after readmission.

He left a lasting legacy at Nottinghamshire, though, skippering the side to a first county championship title in 52 years in 1981 and adding a second success in 1987, before returning as cricket manager in 1999.

A year later he was instrumental in persuading Pietersen to leave his homeland and begin on a path that ended up with him becoming one of England's most recognisable, decorated and divisive players in recent years.

Pietersen's relationship with Nottinghamshire eventually soured, as it later did with England, but his friendship with Rice remained solid.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "Ricey was like a father figure to me. He was the first person who gave me my first opportunity in England.

"He and his wife Sue would regularly invite me around to dinner just to make sure that I wasn't homesick having left South Africa as a youngster.

"He saw in me more than I saw in myself because he gave me the confidence, ability and opportunities to fulfil a talent that I really didn't know that I had.

"It's an incredibly sad day. I'll try to make my plans to get across to South Africa to pay my tribute to a wonderful man."

Pietersen admitted to playfully ribbing his mentor about the glaring absences on his CV, but made it clear his evolution from unproven off-spinner to world-class batsman could not have been made without his input.

"If I got a Test wicket, which were few and far between, or whenever I got a Test hundred I'd ask Ricey if he would like one of those on his numbers because he unfortunately never played Test match cricket, the wonderful player that he was," said Pietersen.

"It was just a little thing that we had going between each other.

"People ask me the question all the time: 'You were a bowler and you became a batsman?'

"Ricey always said to me to bat at number six in my first season in county cricket and that he wanted me to score me 1,000 runs. I looked at him with disbelief in my eyes.

"It was just a huge confidence boost. He obviously had a vision for talent, more than I had in myself.

"A lot of my self belief came from Ricey."

  The late Clive Rice, pictured, has been hailed as an inspiration by former England batsman Kevin Pietersen
The late Clive Rice, pictured, has been hailed as an inspiration by former England batsman Kevin Pietersen